What are the shattering statutes?
The volumes of New Zealand Acts of 1888 to 1894 were printed on acid paper that has deteriorated over the years, and is now in many cases so brittle that it disintegrates when handled. These volumes, known as the "shattering statutes", have become increasingly unavailable to researchers and other readers. (See Presentation of New Zealand Statute Law, Chapter 4, Law Commission Report 104, 2008.)
Facsimile printed editions
To preserve access to these important historical documents, the PCO has published facsimile printed editions of the 1888 to 1894 volumes. We have focused on these seven years as they are in most urgent need of preservation.
We have obtained images of all pages of these volumes—both by scanning our own copies, and from microfilm held by the National Library. Choosing the best available images, we have produced clean versions—a necessary step as many pages were badly marked with cracks, water damage, or annotations. View the image of a sample page (120 KB Gif file). To buy copies of the facsimile volumes, contact Legislation Direct.
PDFs available online
As part of the process of preparing the facsimile editions for printing, high quality PDFs of the pages were produced. We have arranged for the Knowledge Basket website to host the PDFs, to make them accessible to all free of charge. The documents can be browsed by title or by year. As they are graphics files, it is not possible to search within the text.
Further work on historical legislation
Other volumes of legislation of a similar or greater age are also deteriorating. In addition, it would be desirable to capture the documents in other formats, such as in XML. Following the "Government Response to Reports of the Law Commission: Presentation of New Zealand Statute Law and Review of the Statutes Drafting and Compilation Act 1920", in March 2010 the PCO began a programme to digitise all historical statutes from 1841 to 2007 in a searchable format. This project was completed in September 2010. More information »